Mothers have been advised to take good care of their teeth during pregnancy as a study has suggested that gum disease could be linked to premature births.
The report, conducted at University of Pennsylvania, revealed that there was a higher incidence of birth before 35 weeks' gestation among women with poor dental hygiene.
Beverley Beech, honorary chair of the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services, claimed that it has been known "for quite some time" that dental hygiene can be a factor in premature birth.
Ms Beech added: "Poor dental health puts your baby at risk. Very few women know that … The dentists know that, but it doesn't get through to the obstetricians, midwives and those involved in other areas of healthcare."
As well as good dental practice, a broad diet with plenty of protein and green vegetables will help to reduce the chances of premature birth.
The British Dental Health Foundation suggests that women pay extra attention to their teeth during pregnancy because hormone changes can cause gums to bleed.
Independent advice on private healthcare